Why Joe Rogan’s Video Game Comments are Problematic

Last week, popular Podcaster and Comedian Joe Rogan, stuck his foot in it with the gaming community during an episode of his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Talking about video games, Rogan said he has a “real problem” with the hobby, eventual labelling them as a “waste” of time.

Video games are massively important to so many, and as someone who has dedicated a lot of time to playing, talking and writing about games, Rogan’s comments are offensively dismissive, to myself and likely any others who are mad enough to work within the games industry, whether that be as a journalist, developer, or actor.

Before going any further, here is Rogan’s statement in full:

And video games are a real problem. They are a real problem, and you know why? Because they are f**king fun. I have a real problem with them. You do them and they are real exciting, but you don’t get anywhere.

It’s like you could do like martial arts. You could learn Jujutsu. You could get obsessed by Jujutsu, and then three years later you are like an elite Jujutsu athlete and you are entering in competitions, you are a purple belt. You are doing well. You are thinking I might be able to open my own school one day. If I have a hundred students and those hundred students are paying me X amount of dollars per month, I could make a living. And then you see your Jujutsu school, and you Jujutsu instructor has all these students and drives a Mercedes and he’s got a nice family. That’s the future. You are doing something exciting and fun.

Or you could just be playing f**king video games. Three years later you could be that same kid. Just playing video games, waiting for the next whatever the f**k game is. Next Xbox game to come out, and you are going to waste your time.”

–  JRE #1514 with Joe De Sena.

For some context, Rogan has previously spoken out about the addictive nature of video games, with the 52-year-old sinking a lot of hours into games like Quake. I feel it is important to highlight, as Rogan’s argument is a projection on his personal experiences, and therefore is not coming from the stereotypical standpoint of “video games, bad!!” that so many of an older generation adopt.

Nonetheless his argument is problematic, as it centres around the idea of future income and stability. For many, video games are not a means of income, or career aspiration. First and foremost, games are played for relaxation, spending time with friends, making new friends, a form of escapism, and most importantly for fun. Not everything in life has to serve the sole goal of future success, and to suggest that as a reason to video games apparent “waste” of time, is entirely detrimental to their purpose.

But is Rogan’s statement entirely unwarranted? There is some form of merit to his words, as you could spend thousands of hours learning a new language or instrument, rather than yet another weekend binging on Destiny 2. Yet this comparison could be applied to almost every form of hobby. Why watch movies if you aren’t willing to make them? Why golf unless you plan on becoming a professional?

On the other hand, Rogan’s comments seem entirely neglectful towards the various avenues in which video games can provide success. Streaming on Twitch, YouTube channels, content creation, eSports and the aforementioned journalism, can all provide favourable returns – to varying degrees – with new occupations arising all the time, as video games further embed their way into mainstream culture. Is this probable for most? No, but there is always the possibility.

The most important takeaway is to reaffirm yourself that video games don’t need a purpose, nor does any other kind of pass time. It is whatever it brings for you, and that may well be a career, and the Mercedes Rogan mentioned, or it is nothing more than a comforting way to spend your evening. While Joe Rogan may have based his opinions on his own personal experiences, it would be best to remember that for some people video games are so much more than a simple waste of time.

Published by Aaron Bayne

I’m a film and video games journalist based in Scotland. I write stuff about them on my website, talk about them on my podcasts and film videos about them for BBC The Social.

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